As Halloween approaches, so does the picking out of Halloween costumes. Recently, this tradition seemed to be taken much further. In late August, there were clowns reported in towns across the U.S., scaring kids and even adults. It first started in South Carolina, where the clowns were attempting to lure kids into the woods. After multiple police reports, residents took matters into their own hands and began firing shots into the woods. Schools in many states were put on lockdown after receiving threats from people posing as clowns on social media.
To many, the fear comes from the mystery of the individuals’ identities.
“Anyone can dress up as a clown, so you don’t know who it actually is, or what their intentions are,” said freshman Maddie Hammond.
Junior Megan Holtzman added, “It’s the fear of the unknown that is scaring people into believing these videos of clowns.”
Despite the increased attention in the media, this problem did not start this year. In fact, it has been happening for more than 25 years. In 1981, over 20 calls were made to police about children seeing clowns in Boston-area neighborhoods. Then in Kansas City, 60-100 calls were made to police about sightings of a “demon clown.” There has been a social media trend of a similar clown craze from as early as 2014.
Videos of clown sightings are popping up on Twitter and other social media outlets.
“In the videos, the people start off calm and then they wait to run or drive away until the clown starts to run. If that were me, I would have left right when I saw the clown,” said sophomore Molly Peterson.
An 11-year-old girl in Athens, Georgia was arrested for bringing a knife to school out of fear of coming face-to-face with a clown. Anisa Sullivan Jimenez, spokeswoman for the Clarke County School District, “The reason [the girl] had the knife was for protection for her and her family because she had heard the stories about clowns jumping out of the woods and attacking children.”
As this problem increases, people’s reactions are starting to change. The threat to most feels very real, but others are much less affected.
“I think it’s all a hoax,” Peterson said. “It all seems fake and staged.”
While younger age groups are generally more likely to be pulled into this prank, the students attending certain colleges around the U.S. have also been affected by the clown dilemma. From Oct. 3 through the early morning of Oct. 4, Penn State students rioted against clowns seen around their community. Allegedly, 500 to 1000 students were seen searching for these clowns after word had spread around campus that three clowns had been seen on campus. The students chased the clowns with varying objects including tennis rackets, hockey sticks, and baseball bats.
Furthermore, and perhaps one of the most serious consequences so far, 29-year-old Aver Valentin-Bair was arrested for stabbing Christian Torres, a sophomore in high school, who was wearing a clown mask over his head.
While clowns have been around for many years, there still has not been any significant harmful outcome to these clown sightings. As of now, there is no evident threat of clowns being dangerous to the population.